New Afrikan Prisoners of War (NAPOW)-case

Sitawa

Here is an Affidavit of Sitawa in the case Paul Jones v. G. Stewart et al. (CVUJ-06-1359, started in Sept. 2006). Sitawa wrote the following about this:

“This document was put together back in 2007 and [it is about] the struggles that Afrikan prisoners [endure.]

The case on Mr Vaughn Dortch, i was there when they, PBSP, tortured him and i was also a named plaintiff in the Madrid v. Gomez Class Action case. I am a named plaintiff of the enclosed case as well, and of the four (4) major Class Action Cases over the past 30 years.

Affidavit of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (s/n R. N. Dewberry) in support of the Civil Rights Complaint/Action CVUJ-06-1359 Paul Jones v. G. Stewart et al. Affidavit of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (s/n R. N. Dewberry) in support of the Civil Rights Complaint/Action CVUJ-06-1359 Paul Jones v. G. Stewart et al.

Legal Case Announcement; Freedom, Justice & Human Rights (Sept. 8, 2000): the Civil Rights Complaint/Action CVUJ-06-1359 Paul Jones v. G. Stewart et al. page 2 of 6 Legal Case Announcement; Freedom, Justice & Human Rights (Sept. 8, 2006): the Civil Rights Complaint/Action CVUJ-06-1359 Paul Jones v. G. Stewart et al. page 2 of…

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Solidarity had the might to move the mountain of prison torture that kept us isolated and voiceless – we still need you now, even more

Published in the SF Bay View on October 11, 2014

By Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Jabari Scott

CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of the Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program (SDP) sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. We prisoners, the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM), all our supporters, all state legislators and all citizens of California are being lied to and manipulated by Gov. Jerry Brown, CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, George Giurbino of the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI), Suzan Hubbard of DAI and the Departmental Review Board (DRB), Tehachapi Warden Kim Holland and Chief Deputy Warden W. Sullivan as they continue their torture tactics from Pelican Bay to Corcoran to Tehachapi state prisons.

Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California.

On July 11, 2014, I was transferred from Pelican Bay State Prison to CCI, better known as Tehachapi State Prison. During my journey, I had a week long layover at DVI, Tracy, from July 11-17, 2014. I continued my journey on July 17 and arrived at Tehachapi on that same day.

My week long journey was pretty much uneventful, but I was able to touch base and educate a few young up and coming, politically conscious prison activists to a better understanding of ceasing hostilities and where we stand in our protracted peaceful protest.

Upon my arrival here at Tehachapi, it immediately became clear to me that my next two years were going to be another form of modern day slavery and that the past four years of protest – all we fought through and accomplished – had fallen on deaf ears here at Tehachapi with Warden Kim Holland. My very first run-in with these backward, mountain dwelling slave drivers was during my journey from DVI.

The mail I received there was put on the transportation bus. Upon my arrival at Tehachapi, the transportation sergeant gave my personal mail to Tehachapi Receiving and Release staff with instructions to give it to me when they found housing for me. I was later walked approximately 125 yards from R&R to 4B-7C housing, where I and two others were placed in 7 Building’s holding cages.

I reminded the correctional officer of the transportation sergeant’s instructions and that the large envelope contained my personal mail and I would like to have it before being placed into my assigned cage. His response was, “You’ll get your stuff!” When he walked away, I knew I wouldn’t see him or my mail again; and to this day, I have yet to receive my personal mail.

This hellish modern day slave camp and all its staff have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into an old, prehistoric, backwards prison mentality of the 1960s and 1970s, minus the physical violence, which has been replaced by a new form of violence, mental assault through every facet of this institution and its officials. All of the rights that have been rightfully ours as prisoners since long before Oct. 12, 2012, are denied.

Warden Kim Holland’s staff knowingly violate daily every rule, policy, law, standard and constitutional provision that has been written to provide prisoners with their basic human rights, and they do it as though they have no conscience at all and it is their normal way of life, that we prisoners should be thankful for and accept with a smile and “thank ya, sir.”

With that, they flex their muscles as though they stand on the absolute power of virtual impunity that allows them to constantly get away with the crimes they commit upon us prisoners daily. Thus, they boldly think we should bow to their whim.

On July 17, 2014, as I was being escorted to my cage, just about every prisoner in 4B-7C (whom I had never met) was yelling out at me to check my laundry roll for sizes. I wasn’t sure at the time why they were yelling this to me, but through my many years of experience, I knew it was a warning.

Therefore, as soon as I was in my cage and was un-cuffed, I immediately began to check my laundry roll. I held up the boxer underwear so that the correctional officer (c/o) could clearly see that the boxer underwear I was holding up couldn’t have been any bigger than a large.

The c/o looked at the boxers and looked at me, then said, “and,” as though I was either supposed to just accept them without any argument or what was he supposed to do about it. This foul show of disrespect got my blood boiling. I responded “What in the hell is this?” holding the boxers closer to the door.

With that, I picked up what looked like a T-shirt. It was so dirty and small that I really wasn’t sure if it was a T-shirt or rag to clean my floor and toilet with. It, as well, couldn’t have been any bigger than a large. Looking at my size and the size of the boxers and T-shirt, it was crystal clear that I couldn’t have fit any of these items in my teen years, and if I could, I wouldn’t put my body in nothing that dirty.

Therefore, I asked the c/o to go find me something I could fit – something around a 4XL for both the boxers and T-shirt. When he left my door, I took a good look at these super small, dirty boxers and T-shirt, and was, well, bowled over how this prison enforcer responded to my dilemma. It was clear to me that this administration utilizes the methods of dehumanization by stripping prisoners of their dignity, one layer at a time.

I soon learned that Receiving and Release SHU Property Officers were also a tool of reaction that this administration uses against us and that this office regularly practices the art of intentionally destroying and or making prisoners’ property disappear, while keeping a straight poker face, acting as though it never existed or it never came though the property room.

We were informed by IGI Counselor V. Ybarra and all of 4B-7C staff that the property policy is: Your property follows you soon after you step off the transportation bus, meaning we no longer have to wait 10 days after our arrival or after we have gone to Classification or after a long 30-day waiting period. Now it’s immediately after your arrival, your property is broken down and sent to your assigned location. Thus if all the above staff are well aware of this property policy, then it is quite clear that the R&R property officer is well aware of it as well, when property is his responsibility.

My cellie, Jabari Scott, arrived here on Sept. 2, 2014, and as of Sept. 23, he still has not yet received his property. Therefore, you have a policy that’s not being adhered to or enforced and a property officer doing what he wants, when he wants, no matter what rule or policy he breaks.

This administration utilizes the methods of dehumanization by stripping prisoners of their dignity, one layer at a time.

 
Note to all prisoners who are scheduled to be transferred to Tehachapi State Prison: Make sure to get an accurate and complete, itemized inventory slip of every item in your property before signing and transferring.

All California state prisons are mandated by statute to provide each and every prisoner in the prison system, whether you are in SHU or in Step 1 through 4 of the SDP or in general population, with the required allotment of clothing and housing supplies to keep themselves and their living quarters clean and to practice good health habits essential to the maintenance of physical and mental well-being.

State mandated clothing allotments are one pair of shoes, six pairs of socks, four boxers, four T-shirts, two pillow cases, four sheets, three towels, two washcloths, two floor towels, two jumpsuits, one denim jacket, one beanie, two blankets, one laundry bag, one pillow, one mattress, one solid plastic coffee mug and one solid plastic spoon.

State mandated weekly laundry exchanges require that all state prisons provide prisoners a one-for-one exchange limited to three T-shirts, two sheets, three pairs of socks, three boxers, one pillow case and two towels.

Upon your arrival at Tehachapi, each prisoner is issued one clothing roll and one bedding roll, which is your one and only issue for the duration of your time here.

The clothing roll consists of one pair of socks, one boxer, one T-shirt, one towel and one floor rag. The bedding roll consists of two sheets and two blankets.

Laundry exchange: Keep in mind that no issued laundry is new, and all of it is very battered and used. Weekly laundry exchange goes by a one full clothing roll for one full clothing roll in return, which means that you can only exchange full rolls – a clothing roll consisting of one T-shirt, one boxer and one pair of socks or a bedding roll of two sheets – or you can choose not to exchange anything at all. You don’t have a choice on what size you receive in return. All laundry rolls are pre-made, and size is not considered; therefore, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it exchange and luck of the draw on sizes.

Housing supplies: All SHU prisoners here at Tehachapi are issued one small paper dixie cup and one small plastic picnic spoon. Supply exchange is every two to three weeks, if we are lucky; thus, you must be real careful in the maintenance of your dixie cup and picnic spoon to ensure they last until the next supply exchange.

Cleaning supplies: Each prisoner is issued one yellow cleaning rag, and once a week an officer will yell out, “disinfectant.” At that time, all prisoners are expected to push their yellow rags out under their door. Then the officer will walk by, pouring disinfectant onto the yellow rags. You have to sop up as much disinfectant as possible, then squeeze it into some sort of milk carton or container to preserve as much of the disinfectant you sopped up as you can. This practice is so disrespectful and degrading that we refuse to participate in it. Those are the only cleaning supplies that Tehachapi provides its prisoners with. State mandate requires that all state prisons provide three ounces of uncut disinfectant, plus one cell cleaning rag and one scrub pad, weekly.

TV stations: We struggle to get all the following basic stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MY13, COZI, two Spanish stations and four church stations. The struggle is that some stations are blurry and very hard to see; others go in and out all throughout the day, every day, and others just black out for about 30 to 40 seconds. TV access starts at 6:48 every morning.

Pillows: Tehachapi does not issue pillows and the floor officers will write you a rule violation if a home-made pillow is found in your cell. Therefore, we roll up our jumpsuits, towel and blanket and put them in a T-shirt at night, then unroll them every morning.

Mirrors: There are no mirrors whatsoever in any cell. We have a very small mirror in each shower and it is the only place and time we have access to a mirror.

Containers: They are not allowing us to have or possess any canteen containers and some plastics. They argue that because we have in-cell electric plugs, we could use them to make weapons. Their argument makes it clear that Tehachapi refuses to advance out of the Stone Age and embrace the future. Thus, they are going to fight tooth and nail on adhering to SDP policies.

Water: The water here is so bad that every correctional officer here refuses to drink it and every one of them brings his own water to drink. The water is treated with so much sodium that it leaves a thick white deposit caked on all our sink nozzles that is as thick and hard as cement. And when you run your water in your sink for about 10 to 14 seconds, you’ll start to see the sodium deposit build up, foaming around the edges of the water.

Turn the water off, as it dissipates, it leaves behind a thick white film that hardens on the inside of your sink. This thick, white sodium film sticks to the inside of your cups and bowls, too, as well as to your body, which leaves you with an itchy feeling.

Now if this sodium film deposit is sticking to everything water touches, what is it doing to the inside of our bodies after we consume it, especially when you’re drinking the eight recommended cups of water a day? Tehachapi is well aware of this water issue but it is of no concern to them, because to them, we are only prisoners! And they don’t have to drink it.

Yard: Buildings 4B-7 and 4B-8 share a total of 24 yard cages, 12 cages per building. Each building has 64 cells, and Tehachapi SHU only runs one yard a day for SHU prisoners for three and a half to four hours. Therefore, it could take five to seven days for the yard to make a full rotation. Thus, each cell is not getting its 10 hours a week allotted yard and exercise time, which is mandated by law.

Medication chronos: Me, my cellie, Jabari Scott, and many other prisoners were taking various different medications and had various different active medical chronos that were prescribed by medical doctors in our previous prisons to alleviate pain and bring comfort to disabilities. All have been taken by a rogue doctor employed by Tehachapi – another tool of reaction deployed against us.

H. Tate, M.D., is an old war veteran who has a firm grip on his old war roots. He has a high threshold for pain and believes that everyone else should too. Thus he follows a firm practice of “If it’s not killing you,” he will save CDCr some money in not treating you.

All my pain meds were taken and all my cellie’s pain meds were reduced to regular over-the-counter Tylenol that we can buy from the canteen. We both are in so much pain that we are not sleeping through the night, nor can we perform many of our daily activities and functions. And many other prisoners are experiencing the same discomforts at the hands of Dr. Tate.

Programming: The big con, The Big Lie, the scheme, sham, bogus Step Down Program Steps 3 and 4 at Tehachapi State Prison – the whole conspiracy was sold to us by Secretary Jeffrey Beard, Undersecretary Martin Hoshino, Adult Institutions Director Michael Stainer, Departmental Review Board Director George Giurbino, Adult Institutions Deputy Director Suzan Hubbard, Corrections Counselor II C. Vargas at Pelican Bay and Warden Kim Holland of Tehachapi and sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown as if it was a beautiful Hawaiian vacation. It all was a lie – a hoax – and this was never a functional or functioning step anything program.

Thus, as we speak, only one cell at a time is allowed to come out to what they are calling and selling as group dining, and thus far, only four prisoners have been approved for group yard. Steps 3 and 4 are only allowed to walk to the showers with no cuffs once a week. The other two times a week, we are escorted and cuffed.

The STG/SDP was forced upon us Oct. 12, 2012, as a token given by CDCr in hope that it would wash away all the years of torture and foul deeds subjected on us. This supposed token became our only means of escaping our torture. For us here at Tehachapi, that token became our new form of torture, only with a new name, Tehachapi, and what we have come to realize is that the supposed token of good faith has twin evil heads – one that stares you in the face, while the other is biting you on the ass!

The facts are concrete and crystal clear that Beard, Hoshino, Stainer, Giurbino, Hubbard, Holland and Chief Deputy Warden W. Sullivan all knew from the beginning that Tehachapi State Prison SHU would not be a match made in heaven and was, in fact, incompatible with the concepts of Steps 3 and 4 of the SDP, which is why it fails entirely in its bogus attempt to align itself with those policies and principles. Knowing this is fact, Tehachapi continues to be sold to the public, legislature and prisoners as an up and running, operationally functioning program with all of the privileges, opportunities and amenities intact.

IT IS A SHAM! Warden Kim Holland would never even attempt to embrace the concepts of human dignity and a prisoner’s basic human rights, because she has turned a blind eye throughout her tenure, refusing to address and assure anyone that her prisoners are treated with the smallest air of dignity and that their basic needs – mandated by law – that express a concern for humanity are met.

Pelican Bay SHU, Corcoran SHU and many other SHUs are making big strides in lining themselves up with the Title 15 matrix, standardized SHU and SDP policies. But Warden Kim Holland continues to hold the same immoral ground of the past, keeping Tehachapi in the chattel slavery era. And Gov. Brown, Secretary Beard, Undersecretary Hoshino, Director Stainer, Director Giurbino and Director Hubbard all continue to feed Warden Holland the power to hold such an immoral position that basically shatters the very foundation of the SDP, which they themselves built.

Taking a good look at the facts and seeing them for what they truly are, one would have to say this whole thing reeks of conspiracy, and it’s clear that there is way more to these tactics than we know and see. But we still must press the questions: Why is a rogue warden, Warden Kim Holland, given such power? Why is a rogue institution, Tehachapi SHU, being allowed to operate? Why have all the above clear violations gone unnoticed for all these years?

If SDP is truly a program that CDCr administrators want to succeed, then why haven’t Secretary Beard, Director Stainer or any of the other staff taken a look into these violations and resolved them in a humane manner that would reflect anything close to the SDP re-entry program that they have been selling since Oct. 12, 2012?

Why did Secretary Beard, Undersecretary Hoshino, Director Stainer, Director Giurbino, Director Hubbard and Warden Holland attempt to establish a Step 3 and 4 of the Step Down Program in a prison that is not structurally capable of accommodating such a program? And why force bodies into a Step 3 and 4 program in a prison that they knew would not offer those prisoners the privileges, opportunities and amenities outlined in the SDP policies that would afford them their basic, fundamental rights that promote human dignity?

Bottom line is CDCr has knowingly lied to state Sen. Loni Hancock and the other legislators about the entire SDP and how well it is functioning. Sen. Hancock should come and pay a visit to Tehachapi State Prison so she could see for herself the lies CDCr sold her and the Legislature, catch them in the game they are playing with prisoners’ lives and shut Tehachapi SHU down.

Why did Secretary Beard, Undersecretary Hoshino, Director Stainer, Director Giurbino, Director Hubbard and Warden Holland attempt to establish a Step 3 and 4 of the Step Down Program in a prison that is not structurally capable of accommodating such a program?

Tehachapi has no business attempting to establish any step of the Step Down Program here, nor should it house regular SHU prisoners here until this prison has completed a full overhaul from top to bottom from its structural insufficiencies to all its staff, starting with Warden Kim Holland, Chief Deputy Warden J. Gutierrez, Capt. Mayo, Lt. Parrett, V. Ybarra, Dr. H. Tate, the R&R staff and all those that refuse to divorce themselves from that old style slave-driving mentality.

We call on all of the officials to respond swiftly to this human crisis. If just one of you possesses just a morsel of empathy and believes that no prisoner should be subjected to torture and cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment, then put a STOP to the foul practices that continue to violate every rule, law, standard, policy and constitutional provision ever written to protect the fundamental rights of human beings.

Sen. Hancock should come and pay a visit to Tehachapi State Prison so she could see for herself the lies CDCr sold her and the Legislature, catch them in the game they are playing with prisoners’ lives and shut Tehachapi SHU down.

To our countless supporters and those who ceaselessly fight for justice on our behalf, we thank you all for your boundless support – that driving spirit that keeps us pushing forward – and we thank you for your great effort. Your successes have proven mighty enough to move that great mountain of torture that kept us isolated and voiceless for way too many years.

Words cannot fully convey how great it is to have so many amazing people join our fight. Although we have much to stand proud about, we still have a long way to go and we still need you all, even more.

Thus, spread the word, push the word, shake that great bush that attempts to hide Tehachapi and Warden Kim Holland’s horrors until we have shaken them all to the ground and that bright light of the people’s justice reveals all their foul deeds. Call, tweet, text, write all your legislators, all CDCr administrators, Tehachapi State Prison Warden Kim Holland and Chief Deputy Warden W. Sullivan and express your desire for change, for justice, for humanity! And ask a friend, family member and loved one to join us.

And a special call-out to our New Afrikan community, civil rights leaders, human rights leaders, all religious leaders, our lawyers, actresses, actors, sports figures, musicians, entertainers and all those in the business sector: We need you all to get involved to make a difference in your community’s future, and together we will rebuild justice on the foundation of a new morality that is the heart of the people.

To all those prison rights activists and those who stand for what is right in Corcoran State Prison SHU, Zaharibu, Heshima, Turi, Griff, Amondo, we owe you all a great deal of gratitude for your courageous stance of defiance against CDCr’s implementation of its criminalizing journals that do nothing towards aiding rehabilitation or arming men and women with the necessary tools to succeed on a mainline or in society.

Your act, many acts, of defiance were critical and effective in catapulting us forward into the position we are in right now, to enable us to shine the light of justice on and expose the foul, torturous conditions of this institution, Tehachapi SHU, that reeks of the mentality of Robben Island, South Africa! Deeply appreciated! Keep pushin’! To all U.S. citizens and our world community, support those who struggle to support themselves!

In struggle, revolutionary love and respect,

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R. N. Dewberry, C-35671, CCI 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581

Aaron Jabari Scott, H-30536, NCTT Coordinator CCI, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581

Hunger strike representative: Resist, resist and liberate

Published in the SF Bay View, Feb. 22nd, 2014:

I hear demagogues go on their vicious attacks about how violent prisoners held in solitary confinement are, yet we are actually the role model prisoners, if there is such a title. Many of us have sat in these tombstones back here under concentrated torture, while correctional officers have violated and disrespected us routinely, subjecting us to physical and psychological torment each day we have been back here.

We have collectively opted to refrain from any violence, even though CDCr actions have been very violent toward us! Especially when they took a mentally ill New African prisoner and forced him in boiling hot water, then laughed about it saying, “We going to have us a white boy before it’s through,” as his skin fell from his flesh [the most memorable atrocity recounted in the landmark case, Madrid v. Gomez].

I witnessed this with my own eyes. This was an insidious, racist attack that was unprovoked by prisoners. So we have been very disciplined – and this is just one of many attacks prisoners have suffered.

The gang shot-caller or leader rhetoric is a farce. One thing CDCr does well is label its prisoners as gang members or associates. Eighty-five percent of everyone in solitary and on GP (general population) has been given a gang title, so there is no surprise there. Of 137,000 prisoners in California, 11,600 are labeled as gang members or associates.

CDCr throws gang titles around to dehumanize prisoners to the public, which is why they label everyone. You’ve got to seek the truth: There are 14,000 prisoners held in solitary confinement – 3,000 of whom are gang leaders or generals, according to prison officials.

We have collectively opted to refrain from any violence, even though CDCr actions have been very violent toward us!

They say everyone they hold in solitary confinement is the most violent of prisoners because we are the masterminds, but they cannot show the public anything but rhetoric. No violence, no criminal gang acts have been committed by these gang leaders or generals who are supposed to control, or so-called lead. They can associate any of us to others inside or out.

They try to use hype and old alleged incidents to propagandize and frighten the public. With all the rhetoric, one would think they could show and tell, but it’s all hype. And we prisoners have to dispel these lies because it’s done to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in order to win their support.

I am one of the four prisoner representatives. When CDCr uses a violent act to denigrate my character, they generalize and go back 40 years, as did Secretary Beard [in “Hunger strike in California prisons is a gang power play,” published by the Los Angeles Times Aug. 6, 2013, in the middle of the 60-day hunger strike]. Why do you think he went to the 1970s to speak to violence he alleges we are associated with? Because he has nothing else.

But I wasn’t in prison in the 1970s, nor were any of the other four representatives. Then he went to the streets trying to link prisoners to violence, because he had none to link to us inside prison. So he associates us with whatever violence he can out there on the streets! The blame is placed on us, but we’re never charged or prosecuted. They just use it to propagate to the public that we’re the worst of the worst.

The public need to know we are under more scrutiny than those held in Guantanamo Bay. Our isolation has been for up to 43 years for the longest held prisoner – for me 29 years and others 10, 20, 30 years straight, only for being validated as a gang member or associate.

There is NO VIOLENCE! The CDCr lied when they said we are violent men. Our lockups are “administrative,” NOT FOR VIOLENCE. They can show NO Rules Violation Reports – disciplinary reports. We have not committed any offenses to be placed in solitary confinement. The prison gang officers screen our incoming and outgoing mail. They do not allow us to have phone calls. We sit in our tombstone 23 hours a day, if not all day.

There is NO VIOLENCE! The CDCr lied when they said we are violent men. Our lockups are “administrative,” NOT FOR VIOLENCE.

There is no way any of us could do what CDCr is charging that we did, if we even wanted to. Its lies are not about your safety and security. They’re about your hard-earned tax dollars. Prison officials hold prisoners in solitary confinement that they know are going home sooner or later, but they won’t let them out on a prison yard because they’re “too dangerous,” according to them, but they’re cool to be released back into the public, after they’ve been subjected to years of torture.

So much for the public safety. Wouldn’t it be safer to allow a prisoner to program in a social atmosphere inside the prison in order to get him or her out of that isolated, anti-social state? Plus, if we are to be tormented each day of our lives, why won’t the state just murder us? Why hold us back here under these torturous conditions?

There is no way any of us could do what CDCr is charging that we did, if we even wanted to. Its lies are not about your safety and security. They’re about your hard-earned tax dollars.

We’re not animals, although we’re treated like animals. We’re not savages, although we’re treated like savages. The issue is that we are a commodity – a surplus – and CDCr is profiting off our lives and using violence as a premise to justify it. This is why Gov. Brown keeps the media out of the prisons. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Ombudsman and Internal Affairs will never investigate against their own interests. They get paid because of prisons and the prisoners placed in them.

During the hunger strike, we had Chief Deputy of the OIG OIG Rusty Davis walk the tier talking about he’s here to check on the hunger strikers. When people made complaints, he disregarded them, nor did he take one note. He just wanted to look at us. He had no interest in our suffering, nor did he care to see any facts in relation to our situation.

We’re not animals, although we’re treated like animals. We’re not savages, although we’re treated like savages.

He used this opportunity to reacquaint himself with his old prison officials. There were countless complaints he could have looked into, but he refused to do his job. This is what’s wrong with this system: no checks and balances. The CDCr is run where all personnel fail to uphold their responsibility, which is why the system is self-destructing from the inside out.

We can only do what we’re doing to secure our lives from such torture: peacefully resist … resist …

In struggle,

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Message from Pelican Bay prisoner representatives to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez

Published in: SF Bay View, Oct. 21st, 2013

by Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos, Antonio Guillen and Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Oct. 18, 2013 – We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome Juan Méndez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public’s attention.

We recently suspended our hunger strike against torture in the form of prolonged solitary confinement in California’s prisons after 60 days. Over 30,000 prisoners joined us in the largest protest ever against prison conditions in the United States and possibly the world.

We decided to suspend our hunger strike for several reasons:

1) We succeeded in making the issue of torture in California’s prisons into an issue of worldwide public and media attention. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC are just a few of the media outlets that covered our cause, with many running editorials in our support. Thousands of people joined demonstrations, signed petitions and letters, and spoke out in our favor.

2) State Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano promised to hold legislative hearings to address solitary confinement, the conditions of imprisonment, and sentencing policy in California and to introduce legislation for reform. They have already held one hearing on Oct. 9 – in a room filled with our supporters – and heard from experts, former prisoners and family members who spoke of the torture we endure and demanded change.

3) CDCR officials promised to meet with us to discuss our concerns, and we have already spent hours in talks with them.

But nothing has changed. Over 3,500 prisoners remain isolated in California’s SHUs with almost no human interaction and little opportunity to exercise or even see the sun, and are still forbidden contact visits or telephone calls with their families. They join thousands of others who are held in different forms of solitary confinement throughout the system.

We decided to suspend our hunger strike for several reasons: We made California prison torture an issue worldwide with major press coverage; the Legislature promised hearings and has held the first one already; and CDCR is negotiating with us. But nothing has changed.

Prisoners are revalidated for indefinite terms on the basis of unconfirmed rumors, anonymous misinformation from debriefers and informants, and possession of criminalized books, articles and art work. The only sure way out is to debrief and expose yourself to shame, further exploitation by prison officials, condemnation and violence.

Mr. Méndez, we ask that you join in our struggle. We would like you to testify at one of the upcoming legislative hearings. We would like you to consider becoming an expert witness in our lawsuit.

As a former prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the international community, with intention to take resolute action against the torture we, along with many other prisoners in California and elsewhere, have endured for far too long. We look forward to meeting you.

With respect and in solidarity,

Todd Ashker
Arturo Castellanos
Antonio Guillen
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Send our brothers some love and light: Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP SHU D4-121, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532; Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP SHU D1-121, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532; Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP SHU D2-106, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532; Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (s/n R. Dewberry), C-35671, PBSP SHU D1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

CDCR’s $9.2 billion corruption machine vs. Prison Human Rights Movement

Published in the SF Bay View, Aug. 16th, 2013

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective

Aug. 14, 2013 – I would like to reiterate that the Agreement to End All Hostilities, issued Aug. 12, 2012, is significant for all prisoners because CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) has encouraged prisoners in their 33 prisons to not only engage in self-destructive behavior but has also helped heighten racial hostilities – the catalyst for internal warfare, racial warfare and gang warfare – all of which has been magnified inside the prisons and throughout our communities.

We decided to address these contradictions head on by engaging in a dialogue that was meaningful, sincere and honest with each respective entity. We realized that our responsibility was to end actions that were contrary to the growth and development of each and every prisoner.

We have been attempting to end hostilities for the last 13 years, but the CDCR was not a willing participant in the process. In 2000, we were allowed to get together and work on ending racial and gang riots and to end internal violence.

The CDCR, after realizing that we were successful in our attempts, became very irritable and obstructionist toward our work and proceeded to deliberately sabotage it. During a racial riot in 2000, a young prisoner was murdered by a prison guard. Young prisoners were being murdered in these racial riots; their actions were used by prison guards to justify their being shot for being armed with a weapon – i.e., a makeshift prison knife.

Countless prisoners have been murdered in cold blood under the CDCR’s “no warning shot policy.” The prison guards justify killing the prisoners because, they say, they thought they saw a weapon or witnessed one prisoner advancing on another. We consider this to be cold blooded murder. We called for an end to hostilities to eliminate giving prison guards an excuse to kill prisoners.

We realize that the justification for locking men and women away in solitary confinement on prison gang validations indefinitely while also subjecting us to a military debriefing process as the only way to program out constitute attacks to our physical and psychological well-being. Prisoners can no longer withstand such torture.

This process has led to many debriefings and mentally ill prisoners throughout CDCR: in PBSP-SHU, Corcoran SHU, Tehachapi SHU, Folsom SHU and San Quentin Adjustment Center (Death Row). As people who have suffered under such a brutal, diabolical system, we realize that it is our responsibility to help change the course of violent prison systems that have made their way to our communities.

Orchestrated activities are carried out by debriefers and collaborators whose sole role is to maintain hostilities and deepen infiltration and entrapments within our communities in association with the law enforcement in the streets.

We had been talking about playing a greater leadership role for the last 13 years throughout the PBSP-SHU, but we were unable to agree collectively due to our isolation. So when powerful entities within the California prison system – Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI), Investigations Services Unit (ISU) and Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) – isolated us together in the short corridor, a super-max SHU, we were able to re-open our dialogue and agreed to ending the blatant attacks that our families, friends and associates were being subjected to – the same attacks that we were being subjected to in solitary confinement.

We called for an end to hostilities to eliminate giving prison guards an excuse to kill prisoners.

We realize nothing productive can be done to change the current state of our situation, our prison environment, unless we end the hostilities between prisoners and end all racial and gang violence within the CDCR.

We feel that prisoners are the victims of a systematic process that manipulates them through racial and gang violence in order to prevent greater unity.

In solidarity, struggle, love and respect,

Sitawa

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa is one of four members of the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective who sit at the negotiating table whenever Gov. Jerry Brown authorizes the CDCR to negotiate the hunger strikers’ demands.

The Call: Hunger strike to begin July 1

Published in the SF Bay View, June 3, 2011

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison are planning to begin an indefinite hunger strike as of July 1 to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment. This hunger strike has the potential to become the most significant event in California prison reform in the last decade. Public support is crucial. A few months ago, Ohio prisoners won all their demands after a petition with 1,200 signatures was given to officials. Record your support by signing the Pelican Bay petition – and ask your friends to sign it too – at http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison.

by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford)

 

This is a call for all prisoners in security housing units (SHUs), administrative segregation (ad-seg), and general populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people, to support the indefinite July 1 peaceful hunger strike in protest of the violation of our civil and human rights here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU), short corridor D1 through D4 and its overflow, D5 through D10.

It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die, but we are taking this dire action due to our circumstances: The state of California has sentenced all of us on indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer – a snitch.

The purpose of the hunger strike is to combat both the psychological and physical torture in ad-seg and the SHU, as well as the justifications used to support treatment of the type that leads to prisoners being subjected to a civil death. Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

Prison officials have utilized the assassination of prisoners’ character by each other as well as the general public in order to justify their inhumane treatment of prisoners. The guards’ “code of silence” allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (COs) believe cannot be broken.

It is this mentality that set in motion the establishing of the short corridor, D1 through D4 and its D5 though D10 overflow. This mentality has created the current atmosphere in which COs and prison officials have agreed upon their plan to break indeterminate SHU prisoners.

This protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property etc.), isolation, cell searches, family and friends, and socio-culture, economic and political deprivation. This is nothing short of the psychological and physical torture of SHU and ad-seg prisoners. It takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered at the fact that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from 10 to 40 years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to debrief – i.e. snitch – in order to be released from SHU.

The COs and administrative officials are all in agreement and all do their part in depriving prisoners in the short corridor and its overflow of their basic civil and human rights. None of the deliberate attacks are a figment of anyone’s imagination. These continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners to a science by all of them. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners.

It is these ongoing attacks that have led the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves around an indefinite hunger strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the state of California who have been suffering injustices in general population, administrative segregation and solitary confinement to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil and human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats of validation and other means to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other in order to serve their narrow interests. If you cannot participate in the hunger strike, then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter your housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today – united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans and others – it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interests to peacefully support us in this protest today and to beware of agitators, provocateurs and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put 90 percent of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

The following demands are all similar to what is allowed in other supermax prisons (e.g. federal Florence, Colorado, Ohio and Indiana State Penitentiaries). The claim by CDCR and PBSP that implementing the practices of the federal prison system or that of other states would be a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.

This call is co-signed by D. Troxell, B-76578; T. Ashker, C-58191; S.N. Jamaa-Dewberry, C-35671; A. Castellanos, C-17275; and G. Franco, D-46556. They, along with the call’s author, Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford, C-35671), can be contacted by writing to them at PBSP-SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Hunger strikers’ five core demands

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit D-Facility Corridor will begin an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, in order to draw attention to and to peacefully protest 25 years of torture via the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s arbitrary, illegal and progressively more punitive policies and practices, as summarized in our “Formal Complaint,” which can be read at www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. PBSP-SHU inmates’ hunger strike protest is to continue indefinitely until the following changes are made:

1. Individual Accountability: This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates’ rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria: The debriefing policy is illegal and redundant, as pointed out in the Formal Complaint on page 7, section IV-A. The active/inactive gang status criteria must be modified in order to comply with state law and applicable CDC rules and regulations – e.g., see Formal Complaint, page 7, section IV-B – as follows:

A) Cease the use of innocuous association to deny an active status.

B) Cease the use of informant and debriefer allegations of illegal gang activity to deny inactive status, unless such allegations are also supported by factual corroborating evidence, in which case CDCR and PBSP staff shall and must follow the regulations by issuing a rule violation report and affording the inmate his due process required by law.

3. Comply with U.S. Commission 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement: CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons’ final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:

A) End Conditions of Isolation (page 14): Ensure that prisoners in SHU and ad-seg (administrative segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm (pages 52-57).

B) Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14): Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and ad-seg the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.

C) End Long-Term Solitary Confinement: Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).

D) Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to:

i) adequate natural sunlight;

ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP-SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

4. Provide Adequate Food: Cease the practice of denying adequate food, provide wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.

A) PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.

B) Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.

C) Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates. Examples include:

A) Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.

B) Allow one photo per year.

C) Allow a weekly phone call.

D) Allow two annual packages per year. Base a 30-pound package on “item” weight and not packaging and box weight.

E) Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging. The cost for cosmetics, stationary and envelopes should not count towards the max draw limit.

F) Allow more TV channels.

G) Allow TV-radio combinations or TV and a small battery operated radio.

H) Allow hobby craft items – art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk etc.

I) Allow sweat suits and watch caps.

J) Allow wall calendars.

K) Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.

L) Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

For more information and ongoing updates about the hunger strike, check the California Prison Focus website,www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. To reach two of the coordinators, email Ed Mead at mead@prisonart.org or Marilyn McMahon of California Prison Focus at marilyn@prisons.org.